Monday, August 22, 2011

Hair Feathers: Fashionable Animal Abuse

Most feathers that people wear in their hair are not fake. They are the real saddle feathers obtained from roosters that are raised specifically for these ornamental feathers. If you think these feathers are from chickens harvested for their meat, you’re wrong. After the roosters are slaughtered, the carcasses are thrown away. While wearing feathers from roosters raised for their saddle feathers might be the fashion, it is also animal abuse.
Roosters are genetically bred over generations specifically for the special feathers that grow on their backsides, and most do not survive the plucking. In fact, it is common practice to euthanize the roosters before removing the feathers. Real feathers such as these are coveted because they can be curled, washed, blow dried, and brushed along with a person’s hair, whereas the synthetic feathers melt under the same hot treatments. Feathers can be bonded together using hot glue. Then the stylist can clip the feathers into their patron’s hair without any fear of the quills melting.
In June, Whiting Farms in Colorado reported that they were killing roughly 1,500 birds a month. Wearing feathers in the hair is a worldwide craze. If thousands of roosters are slaughtered weekly in the United States for their saddle feathers, what is the number of slaughtered roosters worldwide? Whiting Farms says that in the year 2000, they used over 125,000 roosters for their feathers only. That was back when fly fisherman were the only market, prior to hair feathers coming into fashion. Imagine what the number of slaughtered roosters must be now.
A rooster is only permitted about a year of life─being robbed of roughly fourteen years─ because that is long enough to grow the beautiful feathers desired by fashion gurus and fly fisherman alike. Although the cost of the feathers has increased, making more money for those in the feather business, conditions for the birds haven’t improved. In fact, it has gotten worse since more roosters are being bred to be slaughtered for their feathers. According to Ethical Style, over half of a rooster’s life is spent in a crowded cage. The Audubon Society says that this trend is cruel. Perhaps consumers assume live plucking takes place because that seems to make sense. However, that is not the case for most roosters.
If you have a desire to wear feathers, perhaps you could pick them up from the ground, salt treat them, and then color them as you please. Truly commune with nature by thanking the bird who belonged to the feather you have found and see it as a gift that has come to you. The ground offers a variety of feathers from a variety of birds. They can be worn secretly within a medicine bag or displayed with beads and a tie. Inquire at your salon about metallic hair extensions and ask if the care of them is different from the care of feathers in your hair.
While the fish may be breathing a sigh of relief over the fisherman’s despair in procuring a feather lure, roosters are suffering more. The practice of putting feathers in the hair is even starting to become a canine trend. It goes to show that before you buy into a new trend, research every detail about it. Do not make assumptions just because you would never raise a bird to slaughter for a feather or two. Once again in human history, animal abuse should not be synonymous with our idea of stylish fashions.

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